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Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch passed away early this morning (February 1), he was 88-years-old. 

Koch had been in and out of the hospital recently, and was admitted to New York Presbyterian Medical Center on Monday, January 28 due to fluid build up in his lungs. His condition took a turn for the worse yesterday and he was transferred to the intensive care unit. The New York Daily News reports that he died of congestive heart failure.

The New York Post reports:

Koch – who served as mayor from 1978 to 1989 – died at about 2 a.m. today, sources said.

The three-term mayor and former congressman was first elected to City Hall in 1977. Since leaving elected office, he has worked as a lawyer and remained an active presence on the city’s political scene. He also appeared as the judge on the TV show “The People’s Court” for two years.

Under his watch from 1978-89, the city climbed out of near-financial ruin thanks to Koch’s tough fiscal policies and razor-sharp budget cuts, and subway service improved enormously. But homelessness and AIDS soared through the 1980s, and critics charged that City Hall’s responses were too little, too late.

The Queensboro Bridge that connects midtown Manhattan at 59th St to Long Island City, Queens (where Queensbridge Houses are located, word to Nas) was renamed the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge in December 2010.

By the time Koch lost the democratic primary to David Dinkins in 1989 (who would become NYC’s first Black mayor), he was not popular with the Black community. The death of Yusuf Hawkins, a Black teen, by bat wielding whites in Bensonhurst in 1989 and criticism of Jesse Jackson when he was a presidential candidate in 1988 are just a couple of examples of why African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans were not checking for Koch.

Hip-Hop music and culture was in its halcyon days when Koch was mayor and he was famously anti-graffiti. Check out his appearance in the classic film/documentary Style Wars where he describes his stance against street art below.

Photo: Style Wars

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